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Schrupp Excavating in Pine River; grown a long way from a truck, trailer, and skid steer

It took many years for Raymond Schrupp, of Pine River, to become one of the area's known names in excavating.

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After 38 years in business, Schrupp Excavating of Pine River has 23 employees and a fleet of vehicles and machinery. Owner Raymond Schrupp is shown first on the left in the back row. Alicia Borman / Moments Treasured Photography
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If you mention an excavating job in the Pine River-Backus area, the name Schrupp is likely one of the first that comes to mind.

That wasn't always the case. It took many years for Raymond Schrupp, of Pine River, to become one of the area's known names in excavating.

"Elmer Flategraff said I wouldn't see money for 10 years," Schrupp said. "He was exactly right."

Looking back 38 years later, the differences are stark. After all, he had very humble beginnings.

Schrupp grew up on a farm and, like many farm kids, was exposed to machinery and got his first chance to operate it there as well.

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"I grew up on a dairy farm, so I ran whatever Dad had to run," Schrupp said.

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Over the years, the Schrupp Excavating equipment list has grown, and with it, their ability to do more jobs. Submitted Photo

Years of operating tractors prepared Schrupp for his future in excavating. Some time later he bought a backhoe for use around the farm, and eventually he decided it was time to start his own business. He purchased his first equipment from someone doing excavating in town.

"His name was Kenny Sawyer. He had an old cat, an old truck and an old trailer. I started from there," Schrupp said.

That was the start of Schrupp Excavating. For many years it was just him. Growing from there was no small task.

"You had to work to get your clients," Schrupp said. "We'd been here, so my last name was familiar and that probably helped. But from there you had to do your job, show up and show up when you're supposed to. Word of mouth went around. Those years weren't easy years. They were tough years."

It was approximately three years before Schrupp started hiring help, and even then it wasn't until the late 1980s that he started hiring more than one person to help him on jobs, upgrading to two or three employees.

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Growth really started in the mid-1990s. Today, his workforce has grown to 23. By then he had purchased the land where his shop now sits. He had bought his own sand pit, cut out the middleman when it came to purchasing fill, and his fleet of machinery had expanded significantly.

"I think we have about 35 pieces of equipment," Schrupp said. "Excavators, wheel loaders and about a dozen dump trucks."

The types of jobs his crews complete also developed over time. In the ‘90s, his work shifted from hauling lots of black dirt and fixing driveways to sewer work. Today, those same types of jobs make up as much as a third of their workload each year.

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Schrupp Excavating started with just the owner, Raymond Schrupp, a dump truck, trailer, loader and Bobcat. Submitted Photo

"There were a lot of hiccups along the road to getting the right equipment and having the right people on the right jobs," Schrupp said.

His crew sometimes goes to 15-20 different job sites in a day. Having crews that work together is vital.

Growth didn't always come easy.

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"The most challenging times were growing in the late ‘90s and early 2000s for finding enough help," Schrupp said. "We had an array of machines for the job and money (for growth) wasn't an issue."

He's had many jobs, but the biggest job still sticks out. It was at Eagle View Elementary School in Breezy Point.

"We did the dirt work there," Schrupp said. "It was the biggest job we did. It was a good job. We didn't make any money, but we learned a lot."

During the recession, Schrupp's business was thankfully well established and well known, so the business survived. He looks back at those times and sees a silver lining.

"I got to work a few less hours, which I enjoyed," Schrupp joked. "We got to go to Alaska to go fishing two years in a row."

The business today has reached a sort of optimal size, with enough staff for two people to manage and enough paperwork to keep Schrupp's wife and daughter busy without being overwhelmed. Any further growth would require expansion of the company's staff. For now, Schrupp said the company will likely stay the same for a little while.

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Raymond Schrupp says the company never had a hard time getting equipment, though sometimes there was a worker shortage. Submitted Photo

"You do have to grow with the times," Schrupp said. "And we did that."

Schrupp has a strong sense of responsibility and dignity, which he credits to his success so far.

"It's probably good to do what you say you're going to do, do it in a timely manner and you make sure it happens when it's supposed to," Schrupp said.

If you want to stay in business for 38 years, it also helps to enjoy what you're doing.

"I like to run equipment," Schrupp said. "Now I don't have time. It is what it is, but maybe as Cody (Schrupp, his nephew who is estimator/supervisor) takes more of it over and does more of my job or maybe someone else gets involved, then maybe I can run equipment again. You have to like what you're doing, and I enjoy what I'm doing."

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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